Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2018 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here.
The big day has come and gone, and now we look back to see how each team did in the NHL draft. Look, we know that it is way too soon to evaluate a draft and that the true evaluation will be seen four or five years from now. However, we don’t want to wait, instead, we follow our yearly tradition and do our draft grades now.
LWOH 2018 NHL Draft Grades
Note: VALUE PICK does NOT mean best player drafted. It means the best value. For Example, Rasmus Dahlin was the first player taken in this draft. However, he is not our best value pick for the Sabres. Why? Because anyone can take the best player with the first overall pick, we are looking for value here, what steal did the team get in the draft that went later than we thought he would? If it was merely an exercise in naming the best player drafted, might as well just name the team’s first pick, as that is who their own scouts felt was their best player.
A second note: The links lead back to our scouting reports.
Kaut is a pure goal scorer. His powerful skating ability allows him to drive the net. When he gets there, he has the quick hands to make moves in tight. He also has a very good wrist shot. Annunen was a bit of a reach where he was picked. The Finnish goalie has great size, and plays an aggressive game, but lacks some athleticism and skating skill. A highly skilled player, Ranta is a natural goal scorer. He has an outstanding wrist shot and a lightning-quick release. He’s also a great skater. Weiss is an undersized winger who never stops moving his feet and plays with a never say die attitude.
Saigeon was undrafted two straight years. The Hamilton Bulldogs forward emerged as a goal-scoring power forward this year. He is versatile and can play wing or centre. Zhuravlyov is an offensive defenceman. He moves the puck well. He needs to be stronger physically in his own zone. Kovalenko is a strong skater who plays a smart game. Shmakov is listed at 6-foot-6 which is a great size for a goaltender.
Foudy is an elite skater, amongst the best in this draft class. He is incredibly fast, and reaches top speed quickly, with very good acceleration. His skating is a weapon that helps him create offence. Marchenko has good hands. He can make plays with the puck while moving at top speed. When defenders back off to protect against his speed and skill, he can take advantage of the passing lanes that are opened up, finding teammates with tape-to-tape passes. Karlberg is an undersized winger who is an excellent skater and is more of a playmaker than a goal scorer.
Berni is an undersized Swiss defender with strong skating and puck-moving skills. He needs to be stronger in his own end. Vehvilainen is a 21-year-old goalie who had an excellent season for Karpat as the goalie of the year in the Liiga. Fix-Wolansky is an undersized winger with excellent skating skills. Skating is the theme of the Jackets draft. The Blue Jackets grade suffers from the fact that they really reached with each of their first three picks, taking all of them at least a round higher than our ranks.
Dellandrea was a bit of a reach as there were more talented centres on the board. While Dellandrea may not become a franchise centre, he could be a top-six centre with a good defensive game. Eriksson is a big winger who skates well for his size. He has a good wrist shot. Back has the vision and passing skills to put the puck through tight areas and create scoring chances. He also has a good wrist shot but doesn’t use it enough. Mascherin is a pure sniper. His shot is very heavy, but it is his release that really fools goaltenders and leads to the puck finding the back of the net.
Douglas is a huge forward with a good wrist shot, but skating could hold him back. Damiani is the polar opposite of Douglas, an undersized forward who skates well and is a strong stick-handler but needs work on his shot. Barteaux is a great skater, which he uses to his advantage in the defensive end of the ice. His offensive game still needs to develop. Loewen is the first-ever draftee born in Jamaica. He is a big forward who went undrafted last year. He is strong on the forecheck.
The Red Wings loaded up on picks heading into the draft, and then took advantage of talent falling on the draft board. Getting Zadina at six was a real coup. He is a natural sniper. Veleno could be the type of two-way centre capable of checking top lines while still providing an offensive threat. Berggren is is an outstanding skater. He plays a heavy game and creates offence through determination. McIsaac was a steal in the second round. The two-way defender has all the upside and skills necessary to be a top-four defenseman at the NHL level. At six-foot-four, Regula has the size to make teams intrigued. When he pairs that with excellent skating ability, it makes them drool.
Barton might have been a bit of a reach. Undrafted last season, he didn’t dominate the BCHL like one would expect from a player to earn a draft spot. O’Reilly profiles as a power forward. He has very good speed and power in his stride, with the ability to beat defenders with his quick acceleration, as well as the balance and power to fight through checks. Kivenmaki is an undersized centre who was a point-per-game player in Finland’s under 20 league. The wings took two goalies. Eliasson has decent size at 6-foot-3. Brattstrom is 21 and put up a .919 save percentage in the Allsvenskan last year. He is even bigger at 6-foot-5.
Edmonton Oilers: B+
The Oilers may not have had a lot of picks, but they made the most of those they had. Bouchard is a perfect fit for the Oilers. His ability to start the transition and quarterback the offence from the blueline is exactly what they needed. McLeod is a first-round talent who fell to the second round. The Oilers get a versatile forward who can play centre or wing and adds speed to their lineup. He can provide secondary offence and play strong in his own end. Rodrigue is one of the top goalies in the draft. He is undersized but makes up for it with tremendous athleticism. Kesselring has good size on the blue line. He is a good skater and puck mover for his size. Siikanen is a power forward who loves to get to the front of the net.
Florida Panthers: B-
Denisenko brings pure skill. His offensive ability is high and he could become a real game breaker. It will take some time though as he has some defensive issues to work on. Noel projects as a goal scorer. He has one of the hardest wrist shots in the entire draft, generating excellent power. He is a huge forward who creates problems in front of the net.
Hutsko is an undersized and talented forward who overcame a broken neck to lead Boston College in scoring. Schutz is a talented German winger who plays pro in the Czech Republic. Krygier is a two-way defender who plays a very physical game.
Kupari is an outstanding skater. He is exceptionally fast and has great acceleration. Kupari is most dangerous with the puck on his stick. He is a tremendous stick handler and can beat defensemen one-on-one. Thomas is a first-round talent who fell. He is fast and maintains that top speed with the puck on his stick. Defenders must back off or risk getting beaten to the net. Shafigulin is an under-the-radar prospect. His numbers are outstanding, as he had one of the top MHL PPG seasons ever for his age, and his playoff performance just added to that.
An undersized forward, Dudas is a pure sniper. His wrist shot is amongst the best in the draft class. He generates a ton of power, has very good accuracy, and has a quick release. At 6-foot-1 Hrenak is not the biggest goalie out there, but he shows a solid butterfly technique and good post-to-post coverage. Sodergran has good speed and a strong shot. He has a tendency to overhandle the puck. It was a surprise to see Ingham drafted as he really struggled this season. He is known for his athleticism but there are flaws in his technique.
The Wild reached in the first-round but got great value on their next two picks. Filip Johansson could become an effective puck-mover who is valuable on the power play. He needs to bulk up. McBain could grow into a solid centre, capable of providing top-six offence. However, he will need to improve his skating and defensive game. Khovanov shows flashes of elite skill. He was hurt by an injury-plagued year. Dewar is an undersized forward who plays a gritty game and has a good shot.
Simon Johansson was undrafted last year. He has good size and a good point shot. Giroux is an undersized centre with strong skating and very quick hands. He can make plays at top speed. Boudrais is a big winger who gets to the net but needs to work on his skating. Hentges is another quick skater with good vision and playmaking skills.
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